Author Interview: KT Daxon

Today I spoke with author KT Daxon. We chat a lot offline, but we moved our discussion online so you could listen in on what her publishing experience was like, the roadblocks she ran into, and if there were any silver linings to the whole thing (of course there were!) Join me as I grill chat with KT about how it felt to release her first book! KT Interview

Vania Margene Rheault: I think I read somewhere you’ve worked on your book for about four years before your editor got a hold of it, is that right?

KT Daxon: Yes, that’s correct. Broken Tomorrows began as a Nanowrimo project in 2013. I’ve rewritten it like 80 times and shaped it into a piece of work I was comfortable sending to my editor.

Vania Margene Rheault: How did you start writing it? What compelled you to sit down and try to write a book?

KT Daxon: I had participated in NaNoWriMo two years before, though that book never saw a second draft. When we moved to Virginia, I had a rough start to the year and sought writing as a way to manage the dark cloud that loomed over me. Writing the first draft was a form of therapy that turned into a passion. 1

Vania Margene Rheault: I think writing is a form of therapy for a lot of people. How did you come up with the plot? I have to admit, your twist surprised me.

KT Daxon: Some people have told me the twist was confusing, others, reacted the way you did, surprised. The original plot is a 180 from what Broken Tomorrows ended up publishing as. I wanted to write about a single mom running from a past, but as the years went on the plot changed. My antagonist, Landon transformed into a guy I actually began to care about. In the end, it became his story as much as my female main character, Gabby’s.

Vania Margene Rheault: When you think of plots, or need help nudging loose an idea, do you brainstorm with anyone? Use writing prompts?

KT Daxon: Most of my plots are pulled from real life events, some happen to me, others to someone else. For Broken Tomorrows, I had a friend read the first draft and we talked often about different aspects, including figuring out plot holes. Luckily, the story has changed since the last draft she read, so she gets to read the twist and all the new goodies I’ve included. I only use writing prompts if I am 100% without an idea.

Vania Margene Rheault: You’re already writing another book, aren’t you?

KT Daxon: I am! I’m very excited about this new work in progress and I think that if I can get it to work like I envision in my head, it’ll be a great addition to any bookshelf.

Vania Margene Rheault: How will you mesh that sentiment, keeping your story your own, while improving your story from beta reader feedback and editing advice?

2KT Daxon: It won’t be easy, but I think if any writer were to listen to their editor/beta readers advice with an open mind, and then consider the possibility of making a change that has a meet in the middle aspect to it. I’m trying to think of an example with Broken Tomorrows but I’m blanking right now. Bottom line for me is I need to be open-minded to the suggestions the editor/betas are giving. To understand and know that it’s not because they want to take over your story, but they really are there to help and at the least cause you to pause a moment and consider the possibilities.

Vania Margene Rheault: Sounds like you’d have to think seriously if you ever decided to query. The editing process for books that have been picked up scares me, honestly.

All this background information has been fun, but let’s get to the real stuff, shall we? You launched, ah, early. I’m sure you’re not the first person who has done that. How many plans did that mess up?

KT Daxon: When I hit “approve proof” and published earlier than planned, I won’t lie, I panicked. I had planned to publish on my 35th birthday, make it a big party/celebration day. I had an ARC contest set up, an Indie Feature spot right around the launch date, my bookmarks and swag hadn’t been ordered yet…it got scary. But, it all worked out in the end. The four people who entered the ARC contest ended up getting autographed copies of my book, the indie feature is still on which will be helpful, and my swag is here so I can work on marketing. It also allowed me to begin my next WIP, so, all in all, it worked out.

Vania Margene Rheault: The process of putting the book together after the final manuscript is ready sounds daunting. How did you go about the cover and formatting? How did you decide what platforms to publish on, and what vendors to use?

KT Daxon: I had planned to do the cover myself, but I had to admit to myself it just wasn’t something in the cards for my debut novel. I’m still learning. I was lucky and had a couple of offers for assistance and stumbled upon my cover designer, Aila Stephens. She offered to the read the book to get a good idea as to what we could do and I was thankful for that consideration. I think she did an excellent job and between the two of us, she produced a solid cover. As for formatting, I got lucky there too and a friend helped me with that as well, Rebecca Yelland. CreateSpace has a template that even I seemed the screw up so Rebecca used it to shape up my paperback. A few adjustments from myself and we whipped it into shape. As for what platforms to publish on; that is something I’m still learning. I used CreateSpace and clicked all the channels I qualified for.

Vania Margene Rheault: With so many books being published every day, launches don’t go as well as we hope, or think they will. Care to share numbers? How did your launch really do as compared to as how you hoped it would?

KT Daxon: I wasn’t sure what I expected for launch day, but as of this interview 3/16 I am just under 30 books (paperback and e-book combined) sold. It could have been worse but had hoped it would be better.

Vania Margene Rheault: I don’t think I sold any of Don’t Run Away the first week. But that was my fault–I didn’t tell anyone it was available.  What are your marketing plans for the foreseeable future?3

KT Daxon: For Broken Tomorrows, I am going to try something risky next month. To celebrate my birthday and make it fun for everyone, it’ll involve gifts! But, those details are a secret, so readers will have to be on the lookout on my social media and website on April 1st. 🙂 I’m also going to renew my bookmark order and distribute those pretty much anywhere I can; dentist office, airport, housing office, and anytime I go out to eat. Just today, I left one with my receipt for lunch asking the waitress to share with a reader in their life. I also plan to craft a Facebook ad soon and use that to promote on FB in May.

Vania Margene Rheault: That’s a great idea! How are you going to promote that? I notice you’re quite visible on Instagram. Is that your primary social media choice, besides Twitter?

KT Daxon: Twitter is my primary social media choice because there’s more engagement here. Instagram is next because it’s easy and I also get a bit of engagement. However, I’m on FB as well but it kinda lacks in engagement. I plan to post a video, but Instagram only allows for 1 min videos, so that’ll be my challenge. I’m currently working on a “script” for the video now, LOL.

Vania Margene Rheault: Right. I’m rarely on Instagram, so I’m not sure of all the ins and outs. Do you have a tentative publication date for your next book?

KT Daxon: The only publication date I have for the next book is Spring 2019. Ideally, I’d love to publish in December of this year, but with my upcoming move, I need to be realistic.

Vania Margene Rheault: Right, as you know these things sound quick, but once you’re in the middle of things, you never know what can slow you down. Now that you’ve had your launch and you’ve gone through the publication process, can you share one thing that surprised you the most?

KT Daxon: One thing that surprised me the most was how hard it was to sell a book. I didn’t automatically think my book would be flying off the Amazon shelves but, selling a book is hard work!

Vania Margene Rheault: Yeah, it’s difficult to get your books out there. It’s something us authors struggle with on a daily basis. Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap this up for the evening?

KT Daxon: One thing I am learning is that you have to spend money as a self-published author. Biggest lesson learned is that writing is not a job; it’s a craft that when passion takes ahold of it can spin into a spectacular journey. I just want to add that I recommend our readers to feel free to download the preview offered on Amazon and keep an eye out for the giveaway information to be posted.

Also, final thought: If writing is your dream, if writing is your passion; never ever give up on it or yourself. There will be days where you’ll want to burn your laptop, but the reward of publishing is so worth the bad days.

Vania Margene Rheault: Sounds like advice we all need to hold on to at night! Thanks for chatting with me, tonight, KT, and for being so forthcoming. It’s always a nice reminder that while things look rosy on the outside, the reality is, writing and publishing is a struggle. Good luck and keep us posted! I know we’ll all be looking forward to your contest.

KT Daxon: Thank you for having me! It’s been fun, as always. I’ve enjoyed sharing some background information on my book and the whole process. Have a great night, Vania.

Vania Margene Rheault: Goodnight!

kt's cover

Look for KT’s book on Amazon, now available on Kindle and in paperback!

Follow her Amazon author page.

Check her out on Goodreads.

Check out KT’s Instagram here.

And follow her author page on Facebook!

And as always, follow her blog, on her website!

Thanks for reading!

Self-Care and the Healthy Writer

health is not valued

I’ve let myself go, and not in a good way. Not like I’ve decided to stop worrying about things I can’t change, or that poor review, or what someone thinks of me.

No, I used to run, not from my personal demons or bills, but literally–10k, 5k races, I even ran a half-marathon. I used to love it, the accomplishment, the exhilaration, the sheer pleasure of being outside. Just me and the squirrels.

That changed when I found writing. For a while, I did both. I wrote, went to work, I went on runs. But slowly, as writing became more and more important to me, running became less and less and soon I stopped altogether.

Since I’ve stopped, I’ve fallen into a routine: get up, get the kids to school. Then I settle in to write for three or four hours. I take a shower after that, do chores, pick up the kids from school, then make dinner. The evenings are spent online chatting with friends, maybe watching some Netflix. Maybe writing if I’m really into a scene. Then I go to bed. I can usually write about 10,000 words a week, maybe more if I don’t have to labor over every word, if I know what I need to write ahead of time.

Nice work if you can get it.

There are only so many hours in the day–everyone knows this. Especially the writer who only puts down 100 words before having to do something else.

Who has time for exercise?

When I was writing and running, when, for those few months before one passion overtook the other, I used my running time to plot books. I would listen to music, or if it was early in the morning, I would run in silence and think about my characters, what trouble I could create for them while I effortlessly ran my six mile route through a pretty city park near my apartment.

These days, in a time where families need two incomes to make it work, and you have little kids watching TV all the time and the noise stresses you out, or you listen to a book while you make dinner because you don’t have time to read, we don’t think a lot about self-care, exercise, even eating right. We do what we have to do to get through the day with our sanity intact.

The other morning, tired, after dropping the kids at school, I crawled back into bed with my cat and let my mind drift. I thought about where I was with my book, the people giving me a hard time on Twitter, what I did last week. I dozed, let my thoughts drift for a couple hours while my cat’s head rested on my arm.

We don’t do this very often for a lot of reasons: guilt, thinking it’s a waste of time, knowing chores could be done, words could be written, but we should.

Creativity is hard work. Writing is emotionally draining, maybe physically, too, if we deal with carpal tunnel, eye strain, or back pain. Many writers deal with anxiety or depression, especially if they are querying and waiting for news.

I’ve started walking–I can’t jump back into running just yet. Nothing abandons you faster than stamina, but I’ve promised to lace up my shoes, get some air, get my blood flowing, my heart pumping.

I used to listen to podcasts, but I’m going to try to walk maybe every other time in silence, let my mind drift. Think about plots, notice how the sun sparkles on the snow, take time to breathe. Let my characters speak to me.

calm mind

If you are drained, strained, stressed, you’ll have nothing for the page.

I’ve let myself go, and in the process, I’ve gained weight, and every year my bad cholesterol numbers go up along with my BMI. But not only have I lost some of my health, I’ve lost the peace running gave me.

Self-care is important, and how you do it is up to you. Sit outside and listen to the neighborhood dog barking, read that book, go to coffee with a friend.


Fill your creativity well.

Take care of yourself.

Because you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health. The Healthy Writer

To encourage you to become a healthy writer, I’m giving away two paperback copies of this book by the fabulous Dr. Euan Lawson and Joanna PennThe Healthy Writer: Reduce your pain, improve your health, and build a writing career for the long term. She’s a wonderful part of the indie community, and we’re lucky to have her as a professional role model. (I did not get any kick-backs for giving away her book–I bought the paperbacks myself on Amazon.)

Spring is coming! Get out there!

Click here to enter the drawing!


Results of my ad with Freebooksy

I figured with a few books out now, I should do a little marketing. I’ve been against it, claiming I needed a backlist before I started putting money into my career, but I thought since my trilogy was done, I could do a little promotion.

I’ve heard about various book marketing websites where you pay for exposure, and that’s what Freebooksy is. Essentially, you’re paying to advertise your book in their newsletter for one day. There are other promotions run by the people of Freebooksy if you don’t want to to go free with your book, but I did because 1) it didn’t bother me to give my book away and 2) I was hoping for a little read-through since the other two books were available.

My trilogy is enrolled in KDP Select, and I had never used any of my free days for any of my books before, so I went ahead and chose five days for my book to be free, then I went on Freebooksy and chose a day that I wanted my book in their newsletter. In the future, if I do this again, I’ll plan ahead to give myself time to promote the promotion.

A rep reached out to me, and she was very nice, but she wanted to put my book in the sweet category romance newsletter. I replied that it didn’t belong there as the book had four open door sex scenes. I’m not sure why she wanted to do that, unless she mistook my cover. Nikki and Dane do look cute together, but I didn’t choose to put a steamy couple on the cover because there is a fine line between contemporary romance with sex, and erotica. I didn’t want anyone mistaking my trilogy for erotica. I’ve written erotica, had my “taste” so to speak, and I’m more comfortable writing contemporary romance.

Anyway, this is what the ad looked like that went into their newsletter:


You’re the one who writes the blurb, and I was afraid I didn’t spend enough time on it. You only get so many characters, and it’s difficult to try to convey what the book is about and still make it interesting in that short space.

My book was free from February 6th to the 10th. I started getting downloads even before my book went out in the newsletter. In total, while my book was free, I gave away 4,458. Between February 6th and today, February 15th, I have sold fifteen of Book 2 and six of Book 3, so you can see there was a small amount of buy-through (not necessarily read-through), and I lowered the prices of those books to .99 to go with the free promotion. Also, my page reads for Kindle Unlimited for all my titles went up from 0 to this:

page reads for KU

It’s not the best, of course, since even all those lines only represent $25.00 in sales. If you do the math, that’s a horrible ROI, at least, on paper.

Return on investment comes in many different forms, monetary being only one of them. I’m hoping now that I’ve given away so many books, people will remember my name, I’ll begin to foster some lifelong readers for future books.

My sales ranking did go up for a little bit, and I can give you a snapshot of those, though I didn’t take a picture every time my book moved up in ranks. And as everyone congratulated me, going up in rank in *free* books looks nice, but it’s not the same as going up in the paid lists.

awesome stats!3

These are the best stats the book got. I don’t know if it did much more than earn me a few bragging rights, but there it is.

Amazon did a nice thing, too and put my books together in an ad on my Author page.

tower city box set

You can’t buy them that way–I haven’t created the box set yet, and that is on my to-do list after I figure out my stupid cover for book three. (Yeah, still wrestling with it to get it exactly how I want it in paperback.)

If you were to ask me the best part about this whole promotion thing, I would have to say that it’s that people are starting to read my work. We all want people to read our stuff, but when they actually do, it’s nerve-wracking. So far I’ve been getting decent reviews. They’ve been saying my editing is solid, and there hasn’t been a complaint about formatting, which is a relief since I do all my own formatting myself.


Overall, I would say the experience was a positive one.

If I were to give any advice to someone doing this I would say:

  1. Have more than one book out. I did prove that if you spend money advertising one book, you’re really advertising your whole backlist. Not many people bought books 2 and 3 who downloaded book 1, but it was enough I was happy they were available.
  2. Having a good cover is no joke. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when no one is looking at your books, but the minute you realize people are going to be choosing your book among a selection, suddenly you’re hoping it’s good enough. Be sure it is.
  3. Have a decent blurb. I shortened mine from what I wrote for Amazon, and I worried I didn’t spend enough time on it. Had I spent more time on it, maybe I could have gotten even more downloads.
  4. Have people willing to spread the word. I don’t know how many downloads came from my Twitter followers, or my followers willing to tweet about it. I don’t know how many downloads came from the people who liked my FB Author Page. I was also naughty and told everyone on my personal FB page that my book was free, and I know it’s against TOS to do that. I only did it once, on the day the newsletter went out. And I was lucky a few people shared that post.

I won’t be doing this again anytime soon, but it was fun to try something new and to get my feet wet. A little snowflake can cause an avalanche, and I’m hoping this is true in my case. But now that my trilogy is over and done, I need to relegate it to my backlist and move forward. I’m 31,000 words into a new WIP, and I can’t wait to share with you!

Happy writing Vania Margene

I’m Going to be a Bad, Bad, Girl . . .

Since I’ve already gotten all my presents from Santa, I’m going to be a little naughty in 2018. I’m going to be decadent, give in to my desires.


I’m going to go against everything I’ve ever preached on this blog.

I’m going to genre-hop.

I know. I’m sorry. There are so many reasons not to do this, and I’m going to disregard every single one. If you don’t know what they are, let me give you a short run down . . .

  1. You can’t build an audience that way.
    When you’re an indie, you need to focus all your energy on writing and finding your readers. You can’t do that when you’re skipping around genres. Write one genre, focus your time on getting books out there. Eventually, you will be known for writing that genre and your readers will find you through advertising, consistent content. You’ll become known on social media as a writer for that genre. I’m not saying you can’t ever write something else, but if you’re a new writer and looking for readers, genre-hopping is the fastest way to waste time.
  2. You don’t have anywhere to concentrate your energy on social media.
    Maybe, if you’re like me, and you write romance, you follow other romance writers, you follow book bloggers who blog romance, agents who rep romance. You’re networking with that genre. So, how easy do you think it would to turn around and decide you’re going to write horror? It’s not easy. There are writers who set up different twitter accounts, do this that and the other thing, and pretty soon, they aren’t writing. They’re doing social media maintenance all the time. It’s not productive.
  3. This goes with number two. If you genre-hop, you may decide to write under a pen name. Pen names need new twitter handles, maybe a new website, blog posts. And that’s just what you want to do. What you have to maintain is your new Amazon author page for that pen name, and a GoodReads profile, too. Now we’re back to social media maintenance, and who wants to be online all the time? Blah.
  4. It wastes time. If you decide you don’t like writing in that genre, you’ve wasted all that time you could have had writing something you like. I did that when I wrote Summer Secrets. Summer Secrets is six erotica novellas published split between two books. I think I was in the middle of writing novella 4 when I realized I didn’t want to write erotica anymore. All. That. is great but . . .
    sex is great but 1. . .

    Anyway, so you get the idea. By the time I was done with those six novellas, I knew I never wanted to write erotica on a regular basis. Summer Secrets, from start to finish, took me a year. Do I regret that? No. The stories are solid; I learned a lot from writing them. Not only writing but cover design, editing, etc. Every time you writing something, publish something, you learn something new, and that is experience you can’t learn in a book, no matter how much you research.

Do you want to know what I’m going to write? Sure you do! Before I wrote Don’t Run Away, I jumped into writing a high fantasy novel. It’s got everything: dragons, unicorns, wolves. Princesses, Princes, Kings, Queens. It is almost a fully completed series. Book One is 71,278 words, Book Two is 58,019,  Book Three is 114,815, Book Four is 88,005, and Book Five is 108,567, so far. Book Five not completed, as I took a break to write Don’t Run Away for my NaNo project, back in November 2015. I opened the file for Book One on January 4th, 2015.

Even though they are full of mistakes I have long since hammered out of my writing, I would feel sick if all those words went to waste. I’m confident that with what I know now, I can make those books into something I can be proud of. But it will take some work. A lot of work. And my contemporary romance schedule will be put on hold for at least a year but probably a lot longer.

Things I see I need to fix just by skimming the files as I retrieved my word count:

  1. Double spaces after my periods. Yep. I’m old, and that’s how I was taught to type. I didn’t know any better then.
  2. Head-hopping. I had a lot of head-hopping in Don’t Run Away, as well, and Joshua Edward Smith was nice enough to give me some much-needed feedback. Everything he pointed out in Don’t Run Away is there in that series, X 5. Will it be fun to correct all that head-hopping? Nope. Will the story sound better when I do? Yep. Fixing head-hopping is probably the hardest thing a writer can do during editing. Sometimes it requires so much rewriting and POV fixing, it can take months.
  3. These are very raw, and just the amount of typos I’m going to have to fix leaves me shaking. I can type 90 words a minute, but sometimes my brain is faster than that, and it leaves me with typos and missing words.
  4. Actually complete the 5th book. I need to finish book five, and I think I estimated I still need about 20,000 more words to end it. I know how I want it to end, and providing that doesn’t change, it should be easy enough. A piece of cake, really, compared to the massive amount of editing I’ll need to do before I write it.
  5. If I remember correctly, the main plot is a little shaky. I’m hoping with editing and POV-fixing that will naturally sort itself out. Fingers crossed!

I’ve gone back and forth about fixing this series for a long time, mainly for the reasons I listed above. But, this is the part where I’m being bad, being naughty, and I’m just going to say it. I’m going to follow my heart, write what I want. I’ll genre-hop from contemporary romance to flat out high fantasy, but you know what? I’ll be indie here too, I don’t care. I’ll publish under a pen name, I’ll do what I’ll need to do to get it out there. I’ll hire an editor, hire a cover designer (I could never do fantasy by myself). Pay for some advertising and then leave it alone. I’ll have it out there, I’ll be proud of it, and if it flies, it flies. Like this guy.


It will set my writing schedule back by a year, maybe even two, because I know the score: editing these is going to be a labor of love. Lots of labor, but also, lots of love. I want to get my characters out into the world so you can love them, too!

That is all for now. I’m tired and being it’s Christmas Day, it’s been a long day. But I will use my blog as a way to keep you all updated on how editing is going and look for a new chat series with my friend, KT. She’s going through the publishing process for the first time, so we’ll be chatting about that up to twice a week. Tune in for newbie questions, road bumps, and hurdles that can slow you down. Use our chats and finally know what you don’t know!

Let me know what you think!

Vania Blog Signature

The Top 7 Indie News Items from 2017 (that I can remember).

Indie Publishing News of 2017

December is almost over, which means we’ll be welcoming in 2018 in a few days. Maybe you won’t see it happen because you’ll be in a pumpkin pie/eggnog-induced coma, or maybe you’ll be hungover, which is the best way to bring in any New Year. But nonetheless, 2017 will be just a distant memory. Here’s a recap of the top things that happened in 2017!

Amazon came up with Amazon Charts. Some people didn’t like this, some people did. Some people said it was a nice thing for Amazon to do since The New York Times cut back on some of their bestseller lists. Some people said it was a biased list; Amazon would only promote their bestselling imprint books. Whatever you think, there’s another list you can aim for, because just hoping for someone to buy your book and like it isn’t enough.


Pronoun closed. This caused a mad dash for indie authors as they were a third-party distributor like Draft2Digital or Smashwords. I don’t think anyone received a definitive answer as to why Macmillian closed Pronoun, but there was some discussion of money (isn’t there always) because they didn’t take a cut for distributing.

Speaking of Draft2Digital, it was big news in 2017 when they partnered with Findaway voices, giving indie authors a different way to produce audiobooks rather than relying on ACX through Amazon. Audio is on the rise, and while I hear it’s expensive and time-consuming to do an audio option for a book, more people than ever before are “reading” their books by listening. As an indie struggling with writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing, audio is probably the last thing on your mind. But you don’t want to miss the boat–in the long run, you never know how many sales you’ll miss.


Two other big news items that happened in 2017 concerning audio books are 1) Kobo is now selling audiobooks. This is important because it gives indies another sales channel besides depending on Amazon/iTunes through ACX. But if you like Amazon and are “all in” with them, and you write romance, when 2) Audible added the Romance package to their subscription, this gave indie romance writers another venue for getting their audiobooks out there. It may be more difficult to get your book into the Romance Package in Audible than it is to enroll your ebook into KU through KDP, but it’s still an option if you write excellent quality books.


Amazon/KDP rolled out KDP Print. That little tidbit of information goes alongside the news that CreateSpace is closing their online store. At first, this caused a stir that maybe CreateSpace was going to close its doors completely, and we’d be left with only IngramSpark (for distribution purposes you should be using them with CS anyway) but this is not the case. CreateSpace may fold, but in its place there will be KDP Print. I’ve looked into this service a little bit, and how you submit your interior files and cover files is the same. It actually makes sense–you have your paperback sales and Kindle sales all on one dashboard. So, in light of that news, I would suggest that if you’re close to publishing your next book, try KDP Print, figure things out before you’re forced to.


Another thing that popped into 2017 was if you’re looking for another way to have your romances published, the Hallmark Channel is accepting queries through Hallmark Publishing. Because, you know, there aren’t enough ways to have your writing rejected. No, seriously, if you write clean romance that you could easily see as a Hallmark Channel Movie, give it a go! You never know what can happen.


Luckily, I’m not writing in order of importance, because surely the change in how GoodReads handles their giveaways is more important than pitching to Hallmark. This was a huge step back for indies when they decided to stop their free giveaway program for all 2018 giveaways and start charging for giveaway packages. Before, for free, an indie could giveaway paperback books and only pay for the printing and shipping for the giveaway. Now, GoodReads offers two tiers of giveaways, one for $119.00 and one for $599.00. Yes, you read the second one correctly. I haven’t looked into this too carefully, as I haven’t used the free program, and it will be a while, if ever, when I use the paid option. There was a lot of speculation as to why GoodReads did this, and in my very humble opinion, it was because they needed to assert some kind of quality control. It may not be true, but I’m guessing if an indie has the resources to pay for editing, book cover design, formatting, possibly ISBN, then they also have the resources to fork over another $120.00 for a giveaway. On the flip side, if you do everything yourself to save money, then you are less likely to shell out the cash. I’ve had people disagree with me, saying that poor writers still can put out quality work, and I agree. But in terms of GoodReads now charging for giveaways, it thins the herd, no matter what the reasoning is behind it.


Well, for me, I guess that wraps up my year in review for big publishing news. I can do a personal, What I Did in 2017 post, maybe later. I hope you found this blog post interesting–maybe you’ll need to make some changes to what your marketing plans are for the coming year.

If you want to keep your ear to the ground, a good place to start is to listen to the podcast by Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen, the Sell More Books Show. In their weekly podcast, they talk about indie news on a weekly basis, keeping you informed of what’s going on in the self-publishing industry. Also, follow Jane Friedman on Twitter (@JaneFriedman). She tweets interesting news articles about the publishing industry, and if you can afford it, sign up for her Hot Sheet. If you like to stay on top of trad-publishing news, listen to the PrintRun Podcast hosted by literary agents Laura Zats and Erik Hane. They work at Red Sofa Literary Agency in my home state of Minnesota. Also, follow them on Twitter (@printrunpodcast)! 

If I’ve forgotten anything, give me a shout. I like staying on top of things. You never know when it will come in handy.

Have a great 2018 in the world of publishing! Get your books out there! Good luck!



Thank you to the respective websites for the pictures that I stole borrowed for this post. Also, thank you to and Canva for the other photos.


Indie Book Reviews: My Unpopular Opinion

There’s been a lot of talk lately about writing indie book reviews. You know, it’s a kind thing to do, you’re giving the book a bump in the Amazon algorithms. You see it everywhere on Twitter: support an author, leave a review.

And I’ll be honest, when I jumped into the indie world, I read a lot of indie books. I was supporting my Twitter friends. But when you are just starting out, when you’re new to Writer Twitter, the thing that no one tells you is that there are bad books out there. Maybe I was naive, maybe I was just inexperienced. I was in awe of anyone who had published books. I hadn’t been exposed to the indie world, and I had no idea that a published book could be bad.

So I bought books, tweeted I was reading them, showed my support. The only problem was, some of them were good, some were okay, some were dumpster fires.


Then I would have to write a review. I admit, I wrote a handful of 5-star reviews for books that were mediocre. (I realize that is a moral dilemma for some, and I have stopped doing it since it’s not fair to anyone). There was a lot of telling, or the characters were flat. Maybe a plot hole here and there.

After I bought two books in a row that I did not finish (DNF), I stopped buying indie completely. Because let’s face it, indie books are expensive. I buy paperback, and to get any kind of royalty, CreateSpace makes you price your book at a ridiculous price. So spending $17.99 on a book I won’t finish is a blow to my wallet.

But lately, the review talk is getting out of hand. While writing a positive review for a book that is well-written and well-edited is one thing, writing a negative review for a book that isn’t good is something else.

What makes a book bad?

Poor or complete lack of editing
The formatting is wonky, so wonky that it takes away from the reading experience
Flat characters
Plot holes
An all-around boring story

I’ve read my share, and if you read indie, you have too. I once read a book that had so many typos in it, I used it as a proofreading exercise (a quick run through Grammarly could have fixed 80% of those mistakes). I’ve read two books that I did not finish because the formatting was so terrible I couldn’t focus on the story. I read one book where nothing happened for three chapters. I was still waiting by chapter four and eventually toss the book aside.

Did I write bad reviews for any of those books? No, I didn’t. Did I reach out to those authors, my friends? No, I didn’t.

See, here’s the thing that you probably won’t agree with, but something that I live by:

When I pick up a book at Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, I’m picking up a traditionally published book. I’m reading a book that has been read several times by an agent, by several (and different kinds at that) editors. If the book is bad, say unlikeable characters, maybe a slight plot hole, or just a boring story, several people are to blame for the all the book lacks. I’m also reading that book as a readerI don’t know the author, probably. I’ll never interact with them. I can leave an honest review, and for a traditionally published book on GoodReads I have left, you know, two or three stars (which technically isn’t a bad review anyway).

When I read indie, I’m doing it because they are my friends, or I know them peripherally, or I thought it looked good and picked it up in a show of support. What do you get when you purchase an indie book?

Maybe something that hasn’t been edited all that great due to cost, resources, what have you. Most times editing is a favor, and it’s not always done by someone who knows how to edit.
A book that has a cover that was maybe done by the author to save a few bucks. I do my own covers, and I like to think they look decent. I know decent isn’t what we’re aiming for here, and I realize that if I wrote in any genre other than Romance, I would have to pay to have my covers done. Romance is the only genre you can get away with slapping a kissing couple on the front and adding the title and your name and be able to call it good.
A book that hasn’t been properly formatted. This has always bothered me because CreateSpace has free templates for you to download. And there are lovely templates you can purchase at a low cost you can use over and over again. Copy and paste your book into it, and you’re done. You’ve got your headers, footers, the pages where there should be numbers, and where they shouldn’t be. Gutters, margins. The templates aren’t perfect, and I’ve had to tweak mine, but even just using a template as a starting point will put you ahead of hundreds of authors who don’t know they exist or are too stubborn to use them. Pick up a trad-published book for God’s sake. Copy it. Page numbers, title, author name in the headers and footers. Full-justify the damn thing. Take out the auto spacing between paragraphs. A 200-page book shouldn’t be 600 pages. It costs money, for you and your customers, to print all that space. Stop it.

But you know what, a review is not the place to say all this. By the time the book is published, it’s too late. It’s not your job. You might say, well I have to warn other readers, or I’m giving my feedback.

When you read an indie, you are doing so as a writer, and that is not the same as reading a book as a reader. It’s not the same. When you read indie, you are peer-reviewing their books, and giving a poor review is a low blow. Reach out to them in a DM if you absolutely must, but be prepared for the backlash.

Look, there are a lot of readers out there, and eventually the book you want to “leave feedback on” will receive an honest review from someone the author doesn’t know. That’s an honest review, and maybe if your friend receives enough of them, they’ll pull the book and have it edited, or whatever.


This blog post is really long, and I haven’t even touched on the thing that makes me the maddest. I’ll write another blog post about it. But anyway, I don’t leave bad reviews for the simple fact that I am a nobody in the world of indie publishing. I don’t have thousands of sales, I don’t make six-figures. And when I do become an authority, I still won’t leave reviews. I’ll write blog posts like this.

Let’s try to save these books before they are published. Instead of reviewing, maybe offer to beta read, be a CP. Tweet informational articles about formatting. If you find services you like, tweet about it! Share when you find a paperback interior template that you LOVE. Share tips, tricks. A good editor that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Maybe you can get the information out there; even if you can help one person, it’s worth it.

It’s hell for an author to pull a book to fix it, and by then, their reputation may already be ruined. All it takes is one book for a reader to be turned off by an author, forever.

Let’s stop it before it starts. It can only help all of us.

no one heals themsevles by wouding another

Tell me if you leave bad reviews. Feel bad about it? Proud of yourself for being honest? Let me know!

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Competitiveness. Let’s Not Talk About It

The other day, I got into a little spat with a couple people in a Facebook writer’s group. Someone announced that they had just published their book. There were a lot of congratulations, but there was one woman who felt the need to edit this person’s post. Yes, there was a typo in it. But it was clear this person hit the comma on their phone instead of the spacebar. No harm done, right?

The fact that she called him out on it wasn’t really what bugged me–it was the fact that her own post had a typo in it. All this poor guy did was post he’d published a book. That’s all. So why the need to attack him? I usually let this stuff go, but the fact she did it with a typo herself made me jump in.

typos_LI (2)

But like all good catfights, it didn’t end there:

i'm going to hell_LI

Did you notice that the person corrected her typo? I wanted to tell her that correcting her typo didn’t make her comment any less bitchy.  The person correcting my comment was someone different, but I like to think I got the upper hand there, too. Know your grammar before you begin correcting people, or you’ll just look like a fool, and yes, it is damaging to your online presence.

I’m trying to figure out why people need to be so callous. It came to me in the shower (where all good ideas do).

We jump on each other because we’re insecure and jealous. These people probably haven’t published anything, and they felt threatened by this person’s announcement.

Does that make it okay? No of course not, but I think it does point out something no one likes to talk about: competition.

Writers support each other, that’s a given. When we’re writing.

But what about when we’re trying to sell our books, novellas, shorts? What about when we try to market our blog posts?

There are only so many publishers/agents/bookshelf space to go around. Whether we like it or not, we are competing for prime real estate.

So when we feel like people are “ahead of us” in some way, be it a new marketing trick, or what????!!!!!! . . . they just put out another book? It can feel disheartening, and it can make some people, not very nice frustrated.

But you know what? It’s okay to have those feelings. We all feel them. Yes, I support all my writer friends; yes, I want their books to sell.


I want my books to sell, too.

Maybe, maybe you can even admit, you want your books to sell more than you want their books to sell.

You can admit that–in a dark little corner of your soul. It’s okay. It’s natural that if someone is choosing between your book and someone else’s you want that person to choose yours.

But it’s what you do with those feelings that matter.

Don’t: attack people online; in the end, it only makes you look bad
Don’t: not write because you feel it’s hopeless
Don’t: stop supporting your friends because they make you feel inferior with their progress or sales

Do: turn those feelings into productivity and work harder
Do: trudge through those feelings and support your friends anyway (Jennifer Probst has a wonderful section on this in her book Write Naked which you can find here.)
Do: keep those feelings to yourself, or confide in someone you trust who won’t turn on you or blab behind your back.

The guy who was put down in that thread PM’d me to thank me for sticking up for him. I have been known to stick my nose in a few places where it doesn’t belong because I’ve been on social media long enough I don’t give a f*ck what people think of me. If I see nastiness, for the most part, I’ll call you out. There’s no need for it. We all have one goal: for people to read our work. Being nasty online is counterproductive to that. You can bet I’ll remember those two women, and if they ever publish anything I’ll look the other way.

Speaking of memory, I remember Rebecca Thorne posted a little something about this during her experience at the Dallas Writer’s Conference in 2016. Must have stuck with me to remember a blog post from over a year ago, and you can read it here.

After I defended my use of and at the beginning of a sentence, I left that group. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life–and I certainly don’t need to waste my valuable time defending idiots who just won’t get it anyway.

You can be supportive and still want to do well for yourself.

And for those other two, karma’s a bitch, baby.



Let me know what you think!

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